Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teaching for Social Justice

I have been back at the Faculty of Ed for just over two weeks now. This is our third and final week of the fall semester that will be spent in classes talking, reflecting, and analyzing things that we have already done and trying to soak in even more ideas and notions about teaching. I have really found things to be overwhelming - there are so many things to consider when you are teaching children and adolescents (most of which has nothing to do with the curriculum) and you cannot possibly address them all. So this is what leads you to start to think about what is important to you and what values you would like to instill in your students. I have found myself consistently having the social justice undertone in everything that I do - I always want people (my friends, family, and students) to be active witnesses to injustices in our everyday lives. And so, my path has led me to two things.

1. Attending a series of lectures on social justice that will take place, for the most part, when we return in January and will lead to a certificate in social justice.
2. Making a presentation in my Exceptional Adolescent and Children elective on cultural diversity in the classroom that led me to speak about all types of diversity and get fellow Teacher Candidates (TCs) to discuss how they will plan to create an inclusive classroom/environment in their careers.

In the spirit of spreading my knowledge and views the intent of this entry is to share with you some of the things I have shared with others and some of what I learned in the first of eleven social justice lectures (we also have additional generalized lectures for this topic in one of our course modules in January that all TCs are required to complete).

Here is the pamphlet I created for my presentation.

The rest of the information here is paraphrased from the lecture that I attended this morning. I learned some interesting statistics but please note that this is in point form and that I do not assume that all data presented is precisely or historically accurate.

- Faggot – a bundle of sticks usually used for kindling. “Witches” used a group of gay men as kindling.
- 30% of youth suicides are LGBTQ youth.
- At school, 86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed
- 44.1% reported being physically harassed
- 22% reported being physically assaulted
- 100% of students suffer as a result of homophobic name calling and bullying causing rigid gender roles to be formed
- Film: It’s Elementary: Talking about gay issues in school (Educators version), has also been remade since called “It’s Still Elementary”
- What you permit, you promote!
- 25% of new carriers of HIV are women
- 98% of predators are straight men
- You will always have the School Board Policy, the Education Act, and the Canadian Human Rights Policies to fall back on – ultimately your goal is safety for all students
- Resources: www.crimethinc.com; www.glsen.org; www.thinkb4youspeak.com; www.galebc.org (GALE = gay and lesbian education); www.stonewall.org.uk

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Interactive Quiz

I mentioned I was planning to do an interactive quiz in my last entry. I went ahead with it and, although there were a couple shortfalls, it was AMAZING! I created a review quiz for a unit that was going to be tested the following class. I tried to brush on each topic so the class could get an idea of what would be on the test later in the week.

The biggest downfall was that it was definitely too long, and the second page was more difficult than I had intended it to be (essentially half of the quiz ended up being "thinking" questions). To balance this I ended up increasing everyone's grade by one mark (10% of the quiz).

They had half an hour to complete the quiz as they normally would. I then gave them 20 minutes to sit in pairs that I had assigned them to to discuss there answers and make any changes that they wanted to. This was the amazing part. Most of the students were actually actively engaged in conversation about the quiz, it was a great atmosphere. The idea behind this was to get the students to learn from each other and figure out where their weaknesses were so that they could ask for extra help in these ideas.

Because it was too long having it peer evaluated at the end wasn't sufficient enough so I had to collect them. The students were told that they could come to the math department before or after school in the next two days to pick up their quizzes and/or to set up a time with me for extra help. I only wish that more of them had taken the time to pick up their quizzes to find their shortfalls. It shows a lack of desire, or maybe a lack of the idea, to take responsibility for their own learning. I feel that had they seen these quizzes that many of them would have lost fewer marks on their tests.

That being said, I know that I had some short falls in teaching some of these skills and that there were a couple of things not reviewed throughout the unit that should have been and would have helped them with their learning. Hopefully we all learnt something valuable in the process!